It's about exploring and sharing my creative adventures (mostly sewing these days) ~
~those activities that sometimes obsess, usually inspire, occasionally frustrate
~and always provide a delightful maze to wander through.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Some of my favorite Vintage sewing accessories

These are a few of my faaaaavorite things........

I don't have the spontaneous time available to me these days to spend a Saturday morning perusing the local estate/garage sales as often as I would like, but when I do get a chance, I get inordinately excited when I find a sale that's loaded with vintage sewing goodies....finding a stash of unusual buttons can make me positively giddy with delight!

The other day I found this Orco Tack-It marker:
For $1.  I'm good with that.  Especially since it still had all of the original colored marking sheets with know, the ones with a waxy surface that actually make a mark on the fabric!   I've tested it out, & I LOVE it!   SO quick & easy - one little tap on the metal bit & both sides of your fabric have a lovely little circle.   Apparently this was first made sometime in the 50's, although the artwork on this box is positively 60's.   I'll be getting some use out of this one!

Another marker that's dear to me for many reasons is this little plastic pin chalk goodie:
One of the reasons it's so special is that I've had this for as long as I can remember (no cracks about the memory from you - that concussion was honestly earned!).  It may have been my Mom's, or I might have bought it as a teenager - what's amazing is that I STILL have a (dwindling) supply of chalk for it!   You use it by stamping out a circle on the pattern piece with the little metal bit on the end of the bottom piece, then stick the pin through the hole in the pattern, match up the other half on the other side of your fabric, give it a couple of twists, & you have both sides of the fabric marked with a dot.   It's great for marks in the center of the fabric.

Another oldie, with history, is my Mother's Wiss Pinkers:
These puppies survived more paper-cutting than any good scissors should have to endure!   But hey, if you're an incorrigible youngster with creative longings, and you have access to something that makes those pretty jagged cuts, what would you do?    These pinks are probably older than I am, but in spite of all the abuse from my stubby little childhood hands, a good professional sharpening last year gave these lovelies a good many more years of quality use :-)  Oh, & NO ONE gets to play near paper with them...

This one is not vintage, but a reproduction - my Sewing Bird, aka third hand:
The beak on that baby is strong!   I may only use it a couple of times a month, but it has a permanent home on the edge of a cabinet, ready to serve every time I need something to be grabbed while I work the other end.   I've used it to hold a seam steady while I unpick, hold the ends of something I'm braiding, grab an end of something to measure or stretch, hold some yarn in place while I'm twisting it....a fantastic little multi-tasker!   If I saw a 'real' vintage one of these at an an estate sale I would snatch it up in a heartbeat!

Last, but definitely not least, my favorite Foot of the moment - the narrow hemmer:
Ahhhh, makes me smile just to look at it!   I finally mastered the technique, and wondered why I thought it was so hard before!  No more silly, fiddly, measuring & edge stitching & pressing.....just feed the fabric & get a perfect rolled hem!

Rolled hem on fray-prone silk?   Easy peasy!   :)  
That's Collette, my trusty Featherweight, happily hemming away :)

What are your oft-used & favorite vintage notions/accessories?  Any odd ones to share?   Or great finds & good stories?


  1. Off hand can't think of anything unusual, but I do have my mom's Wiss scissors from the 50s, possibly even 40s. They are the ones I use when cutting fabric for garment sewing. I also have a six inch ruler of hers which is so old there are only 4 numbers in the company phone number on the ruler.

  2. Oh I love it! Thanks for the reminder too....I have an old ILGWU (International Ladies Garment Workers Union) 6" plastic ruler, but one of my little treasures is a small screwdriver, with a bone handle, from "Thurston's Penny Saver" in Rangely, CO (the town I was born in).

    Funny how little things like that can become so special - I moved so many times in my life (both as a family, when I was young...then even more often as a young adult) anything I do still have is a treasure :)

  3. Oh, I also have a Vogue fitting and sewing book from the 20s. It belonged to hubby's grandmother. I have gotten some help from it!

    It always amazed me how things get lost in a move, but they do!

  4. Oh gee, I remember the Tack-It. My mom had one and she loved hers too. I remember using the stapler-like device. :) I also bought a sewing bird, years ago, but I never used it. It's lost to the mists of time.

    Vintage notions/accessories? Well, my machine is practically vintage, a Bernina 930. But I can't think of anything I use for sewing that is really old.

  5. I have a fantastic 1950s Necchi automatic needle treader. It's a wonderful device that works great for all sewing machines that are threaded right to left or left to right. To view a photo of it follow this link

  6. I used to have a TackIt. Somewhere along the line I got rid of it, now to my dismay. Maybe the one you have was originally mine. Would you please be so kind as to send it to me?

  7. Thanks for the trip (down memory lane) I am so impressed that you still have your pin chalk marker...honestly, mine bit the dust years ago.

    I am intrigued by your use of the narrow hemmer. Can you share some tips....can you sew over seams? and when hemming an actual garment how do you begin and end it?

  8. Love this, I also have a special pair of pinking shears from my grandma. My favorite gadget is called a Simflex ruler. It spaces button holes - like an accordion. I would second the recommendation for a future blog on the hemmer. I just can't get the hand of it.

  9. Gosh, we have a few Tack-it users & former users! & I'd never even seen one before....

    Gwen I'm positive yours was in a tan box, not the garish 60's pink like sorry. Heh.

    shams you're just so.....modern ;D

    Tammy may we all keep our eyesight long enough that we don't need to have one of those cute little contraptions for every threading! (Reading glasses rule!)

    Lynne the only reason I still have my pin chalk marker, I'm sure, is because of my 20+ year absence from sewing! I'm SO glad that I've been semi-settled during that time (only 2 moves) & kept all of those notions :) Somehow I knew I'd be sewing again someday.....

    Lynne & yarndiva, I'll have to figure out if my little camera will do a decent enough video for a video tute....if not, I'll at least do a written post - great idea! I did figure out a couple of tips that helped me, but mostly it's about holding the fabric just so as you're feeding it into the foot.

  10. I would love one of those nifty pin markers. Seems like they should still be produced as they look handy.

    Now, about that narrow hemmer. I have that foot or my featherweight, but have not gotten the hang of it. Probably more practice is in order. How about a video tutorial, Jilly?! ;)

  11. WOW. you have some great goodies - I used to have those chalk gadgets - wonder what ever happened to them?

  12. I'm embarrassed to admit that I got a Tack-it at a thrift store several years ago but haven't yet used it. Must do that now that I'm reading the raves. I inherited a large heavy pressing ham last year and love using it as well as remembering the dear, fun woman who gave it to me.

  13. Wow, all of these little vintage gadgets sound soooo handy! I wish I had any of my own to share. I hate the modern dressmakers pencils, they mark most fabrics pretty poorly.
    Although my grandmother was an avid sewer, and she lived with my family for most of my youth, I'm afraid I wasn't handed down anything, my aunt got it all.
    I will start looking around at thrift stores and garage sales much more for other things than fabric and notions now, though!

  14. What fun finds! Unfortunately, I don't have any nifty gadgets -- just atypical ones like my husband's odd-looking wooden letter opener that I use for corners and metal measuring cups as pattern weights!

  15. You have some beautiful vintage and handy things here. Although new, the Clover chalk pens are THE best invention ever.

  16. Joan I have a eucalyptus-leaf shaped letter opener (bought in Oz) that would be perfect for a corner pusher! Thanks for that tip! Now I'll need to find another letter opener.....

    Don thanks for the tip on the Clover pens - I'm going to try one. I'm not really happy with any of the pen/pencil type markers I've tried to date; hope this one does the trick!

  17. Hey Jilly Be, I just linked you to a post I did today on vintage sewing tools. Thanks for the inspiration.

  18. I have had my Tack-it and Wiss pinkers since the late 1960's. I still use both and had the pinking shears sharpened about two years ago. Stored in my sewing room are a largish wood cutting board from my kitchen and a short handle hammer with which I use the Tack-it. Just a light whack or two and the marks are made. My hands don't like doing than any longer. I never mastered the rolled hem foot, although I have watched several videos on You Tube that offer excellent insight.